Jean sent the following letter to the Waltham Forest Guardian on january 15th:
David Lewis of UK Lawyers for Israel seems to be claiming that being opposed to Veolia building one of Europe’s largest waste treatment plants to handle Waltham Forest’s rubbish is an ‘extremist’ position and that those who have campaigned against it are ‘fanatics’. What nonsense! I have been pleased to support the campaign against the proposed contract, specifically due to the environmental and social damage the Pinkham Way plant would have caused. I have additional concerns relating to Veolia as one of the bidders.
Veolia has been criticised by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories for running transport services between illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and Jerusalem, and for operating waste services including a landfill site used to dump Israeli waste on Palestinian land. Indeed he has called for a direct boycott of Veolia – and other companies – for their complicity in human rights abuses.
Mr Lewis is quite right: it is not unlawful in the UK for a multi-national company to do this, but I think most people agree that it should be a crime in the UK for any company operating here to take part in human rights abuses abroad. I hardly think that’s a ‘fanatic’ or ‘extremist’ position – merely one in line with respect for the international observance of Human Rights law and a desire to foster Corporate Social Responsibility.
Whatever the reason for Veolia’s decision to pull out of the bidding process, I hope we now see a proposal based on improving waste reduction facilities, smaller treatment plants being built, only if necessary and always as close to the source of the waste as possible, and a retention of public, democratic control of the way our council handles municipal waste disposal for Waltham Forest.
Jean Lambert MEP (Green Party, London)
Patron of Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign